By Oliver Clark.
Italy’s airport’s face an “emergency in terms of infrastructure”, with their growth being constrained by an existing national airport charges regime that needs to be urgently deregulated, warns industry expert, Stefano Baronci.
According to Baronci – the newly appointed general secretary of Italian airport association, Assaeroporti – the nation's highly regulated framework has meant that airport charges “have been practically frozen” for the past 11 years, making it difficult for them to be more competitive, attract new airlines and increase revenues.
Speaking at ACI Europe’s 2011 Regional Airports Forum in Cargliari, Baronci hailed the launch of the EU’s Airport Charges Directive (ACD), setting out a common framework regulating the central features of airport charges and the way they are set and Italy’s decision to adopt it.
However, he urged a wide-ranging deregulation of charges and said Italy would probably “be late” in applying the directive by a deadline of July 2011.
“A lot of airports are waiting for these prices to be finished. I have to be grateful to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the European Council to have been able to issue a directive on airport charges,” said Baronci.
He also highlighted the lack of intermodal connections to Italian airports, with only six served by rail links and no metro or high speed rail services currently in operation.
With Italy’s airports handling 140 million passengers in 2010, a figure expected to mushroom to 200 million in 2020 and 266 million in 2030, according to Baronci, its airports will need to modernise and expand their infrastructure to meet passenger demand.
Baronci quoted a recently released report on the state of Italy’s airport system conducted by consultants One Works Spa and KPMG on behalf of the Italian Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), which among other findings identified the need for a simplified regulatory set-up to help improve competitiveness.
The report, published in February, will form the basis of a new national plan for Italy's airports and Baronci said possible changes could include greater consolidation of regulation ENAC instead of Italy’s 37 regional airport operators and did not rule out privatising airports.